In the most shocking development since the sun set in the west last night, it turns out that unsavory groups like the mafia are attracted to free money, even when various governments are handing it out under the guise of 'renewable energy'.
Investigators in Italy have seized one of Europe's largest wind farms- reportedly worth €350 million- as part of an ongoing probe of 55 year old 'Ndrangheta underboss Pasquale Arena.
Arena is suspected of having had a wind farm built on behalf of the clan through shell companies based in Germany, San Marino and Switzerland.In 2010, the BBC reported that organized crime in southern Italy was using renewable energy subsidies and development grants from Rome and Brussels to launder money from other criminal enterprises and using arson and extortion to obtain operating licenses or the land on which the wind farms were built.
The wind farm has 48 generators and is considered one of the biggest in Europe in surface area and output, investigators said in a statement.
Arena himself has not been arrested and was present at the raids. A total of 31 people including two German nationals are under investigation.
In Italy, the power generated from the wind farms is sold at a guaranteed rate of €180 per kwh, one of the highest rates in the world. Similar cases of fraud involving wind and renewable energy grants across Europe have surfaced.
Scandals have emerged in Spain, Romania, Bulgaria and Corsica, among others. In one alleged scam on the Canary Islands, a mayor, five officials and two developers are fighting criminal charges that include abuse of office, bribery and misappropriation of land in an attempt to secure EU subsidies.Based in southern Italy [the toe of Italy's 'boot'- NANESB!], the 'Ndrangheta is active throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and Argentina and is involved in drug trafficking, prostitution, extortion, arms trafficking as well as dumping toxic or radioactive waste off the coast of Italy and Africa. Italy's four distinct mafia groups- the Ndrangheta, Sicily's Cosa Nostra, Naples' Camorra and Puglia's Sacra Corona- have profited to the tune of an estimated €16 billion annually from crimes such as illegal development, trafficking endangered species and illegally dumping waste throughout Italy.
One case in Spain, meanwhile, involved a solar energy plant which claimed, miraculously, to be generating electricity at night. Investigators found that that the power was in fact being produced by diesel generators - the "green" subsidies paid for the plant were so generous that the owners still made a handsome profit.
As well as the prospect of fraudulent grant money, wind farms are also attractive to criminals seeking to invest money from illegal activities such as drug dealing, prostitution and illegal waste dumping. Some Mafia clans have illicitly secured licenses to build a wind farm and then sold them on to legitimate firms who have invested in good faith.
In recent years, the 'Ndrangheta- sometimes known as 'the Honoured Society'- has eclipsed the more infamous Cosa Nostra in terms of power and influence. Drug trafficking remains the Ndrangheta's most lucrative pursuit and in recent years they've aligned themselves with Mexico's Zetas to export cocaine to Europe and Australia.